2013 Year in Preview

The very fact that you are reading this means the world didn’t end on December 21, 2012 as the doomsday prophets predicted. 2013 has arrived with its own set of challenges and opportunities for the 7 billion of us walking this planet. Here’s a look at some of the things that 2013 is likely to bring our way.

Religious freedom will decrease worldwide
A 2012 study by the Pew Research Forum showed that government restrictions and hostility are on the rise against religious groups in every region of the world. This is especially true in countries where governments favor one religion over others. While the study showed the most significant rise of religious oppression in the regions of North Africa and the Middle East, it also found evidence of religious freedoms decreasing right here in the U.S. Look for this trend to continue, especially with the rapid growth of Islam around the globe.

The internet will become more mobile
With constantly-improving technology and ever-increasing screen size, today’s smartphone is shaping up to become tomorrow’s laptop. Financial giant Morgan Stanley has predicted that the number of mobile web users will surpass desktop users by 2014. This year, businesses and organizations will push to become more mobile-optimized in order to keep pace and avoid going the way of the dinosaur.

Israel will face mounting opposition
With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still in power in Iran, the 2012 ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, and tense relations with Syria, Israel certainly has no shortage of enemies in the Middle East. Perhaps most concerning is in 2013 is the renewed instability in Egypt that could pave the way for an even more radical Islamic faction to seize power, turning Israel’s once greatest ally in the region into a breeding ground for anti-Israel militancy. Biblically speaking, all of the above is no surprise, as scripture clearly tells of an apocalyptic conflict in Israel at the end of days.

America will grow more diverse
According to the U.S. Census bureau, black, Hispanic, Asian and mixed-race births made up 50.4% of babies born in 2011, marking the first time in U.S. history that whites have not been the majority. Forecasters expect that, by 2040, non-Hispanic whites will make up a minority of the population of the United States. Expect politics, culture and media to increasingly reflect the nation’s ever-increasing diversity in 2013.

Christianity will grow in China
Despite official government opposition, as well as a law forbidding church members from participating in religious activities outside of their state-monitored places of worship, Christianity is exploding in China. Conservative estimates put the number of Chinese Christians at 60 million and rising. According to the BBC News Magazine there are more Christians in church in China on a Sunday morning than there are in all European nations combined. Communist leader Mao Zedong’s attempt to obliterate Chinese Christianity in the 60’s and 70’s actually had a reverse effect, and the faith is growing faster in China than anywhere else on the planet today.

Television will get more risqué
According to a widely-publicized study by media watchdog group Parents Television Council (PTC), there was a 6,300% increase of incidences of full-frontal nudity and a 407% increase of nudity in general (both pixelated, in most instances) on prime-time broadcast television from 2011 to 2012. Additionally, on June 21, 2012 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of broadcasters and against the FCC in a case involving incidences of profanity and nudity on prime-time television, bolstering the networks that are already doing all that they can to push the boundaries. Expect more of the same media raunchiness in 2013.

The face of the American church will change
A 2010 study by Barna Research Group found that between 50 and 75 American churches close their doors each week, and that 80% of the churches in the nation are in a state of decline. However, a significant number of church planting networks and organizations have emerged in recent years that are striving to reverse this trend. 2013 will see a continued departure from mainline protestant denominations, but a growth of new evangelical church plants around the country.

The U.S. economy will remain uncertain
With a “fiscal cliff” looming, as well as ambiguity as to how upcoming tax hikes, budget cuts and healthcare legislation will affect the U.S. economy, financial forecasters are hesitant to make significant projections in either direction. However, there are some signs of life as the housing market appears to be on the rebound, and the unemployment rate has reached its lowest point since December 2008. Don’t expect major turnaround in 2013, but some analysts are cautiously optimistic about the fiscal climate for the upcoming year.

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus put it, “Nothing endures but change.” We can expect 2013 to bring no shortage of challenges and changes, but we can remain thankful to God that he will stay the same in the midst of these turbulent times.

Justin is the Staff Writer for the Good News. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @thejustinyoung.

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